The Horror, The Horror: An Unmissable One-Night Event In Ruzafa

(8-minutes read time)

Mind the gap – a unique cultural event is taking place on Saturday 12 June exploring outsider art and ‘Horror Vacui’, the fear of empty spaces. With free admission, there is no reason not to go, says Eugene Costello

The fourth-century BC Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote, “Nature abhors an empty space”, often translated as “a vacuum”. It touches upon the concept of kenophobia, literally fear of the empty. Similarly, in the world of ‘outsider art’, that is, self-taught art, often by people with psychiatric disorders and little connection with the mainstream art world, it has led to what is termed ‘horror vacui’.

At its most simple, it is typified by outsider artists with a compulsion to fill the page, drawing layers upon layers on the page until no blank space remains.

These two phenomena come together in a unique experience on the evening of Saturday 12 June at the hip space . It is a collaboration between artist Marie Julou, a pseudonym for artist and writer Tina McCallan, and photographer Steve Young.

Julou is influenced by the art of ‘outsider artists’, “some with genuine psychological disorders who are driven by an urge to obsessively cover the paper in lines, shapes and patterns”, sas Julou.

In her work, she starts with a line then, like a doodle, lets it wander across the canvas, sometimes doodling in pencil on top of dried oil paint scratching the surface like sgraffito in Italian art. 

Julou is interested in the meditative quality of painting, in layers, covering things up and revealing them. Each painting has its own archaeology, she says, a history of colours and marks buried beneath the final layer.

Says Julou, “I’m fascinated by the idea that, with ‘horror vacui’, a painting or drawing is never finished, you can just keep adding more and more until you get lost in it.”

At the same event, attendees will also be treated to some of the photographic work of Valencia-based Steve Young. More properly termed kenophobia, Young’s work concerns itself with mankind’s fear of open spaces, which some say manifests itself in a compulsion to litter landscapes with constructions and edifices. 

He will be exhibiting a series of photographs entitled Interrupted Landscape, depicting a disused mine, a nuclear power station and a theme park. 

Young is interested in how the theme of ‘horror vacui’ refers to how we relate to space and our visual world.

In the images, he has depicted landscapes as interrupted, scarred or damaged by monstrous industrial structures, investigating the notion of the fear of open space or the void. Through the visual investigation of the landscape around us, he sees strong traces of the Anthropocene, a proposed geological epoch in which mankind moved from surviving on the planet to hugel altering it. 

Young’s stance is to critique this evolution, seeing the obsessive filling of space as something problematic to our relationship to the Earth and ourselves. He shot all the images using moonlight.

Says Young, “I see the industrial landscape as a metaphor for that which arises in our minds, a collective capitalist greed manifesting through neo-liberal ideals, where we impose our will, our desires on the landscape, we cannot just leave it be.”

The evening promised to be inspiring and thought-provoking, as well as a chance to rub shoulders (and glasses) with like-minded people in one of Ruzafa’s coolest venues. All you need to do is turn up…

Story by freelance journalist and writer, Eugene Costello, formerly based in east London and now living in Valencia, Spain, founder of The Valencian

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